Rating 2

Created by Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy

Written by Peter Tabern (three episodes), Lucy Watkins (two episodes) and Howard Overman (one episode)

Directed by Tom Harper (three episodes) and Matthew Evans (three episodes)

Starring Christian Cooke, Philip Glenister, Zoë Tapper, Holly Grainger, Saskia Wickham, Mackenzie Crook and Richard Wilson

Teenager Luke Rutherford (Christian Cooke) meets his godfather Rupert Galvin (Philip Glenister) for the first time. Galvin tells him he is the last Van Helsing and it is his destiny to fight “half-lives”, vampires and dark forces from the supernatural world. Luke is introduced to Mina Hawker, the same Mina Hawker who appeared in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel ‘Dracula’, and is thrown into a strange and dangerous netherworld, unwittingly dragging his friend Ruby (Holly Grainger) in with him.


The remarkable success of the revived ‘Doctor Who’ has opened the door to several shows with a supernatural or fantasy/horror theme. ‘Primeval’ was the immediate ITV answer to the celebrated BBC series and a third season of that show has been commissioned. Now comes ‘Demons’, once again targeting the Saturday teatime family audience, with a basic premise that rather blatantly copies ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. Its first season ran for six episodes between 3 January and 7 February 2009.

Whereas ‘Doctor Who’ can command viewing figures in excess of 10 million and ‘Primeval’ averaged 6.2 million across its first two seasons, ‘Demons’ saw a dramatic and almost immediate decline in viewers, dropping from 6.3 million for the first episode to 4.2 million by the time of episode four.

The series never fires on all cylinders, although it is not a complete failure. The biggest problem lies with the main characters – and that is a serious problem. Luke is self-centred in the way that teenagers tend to be, but he has no discernible personality and, as seen through his attitude towards his friend Ruby, he is, putting it politely, routinely pig ignorant. Philip Glenister adopts a terrible American accent for his portrayal of Rupert Galvin, which does nothing to enhance the character. Zoë Tapper’s muted performance as Mina Hawker is, I assume, intended to give her a mysterious and otherworldly air, but it does tend to suck the life out of the character. Only Ruby has any real spark.

Mackenzie Crook, famous for his roles in ‘The Office’ and the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films, puts in an amusing turn in two episodes as the vampire Gladiolus Thrip; basically David Bowie in Teddy Boy garb with a false nose. Richard Wilson could have been used more in the role of the zombie priest Father Simeon.

The series received a mixed reaction from television critics and the already declining viewing figures suggest there is no guarantee it will return for a second season. If it does and it manages to breathe some life into the characters, there is hope, but it needs to establish its own identity. At the moment it is just a pale imitation of the various sources it has clearly copied.

Review posted on 8 Febuary 2009


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